Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
- Published on Friday, May 20, 2011
According to the law, the people who oversee your 401(k) plan are supposed to defray "reasonable" plan management expenses, minimize the risk of "large" losses and use the "care, skill, prudence and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent man acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims." In Ron Lieber's NY Time's piece "Why 401(k)'s Should Offer Index Funds" he goes through the reasons why this often doesn't happen, why this should be an option, and the steps you can take to get the option at your workplace.
Academic Freedom? Conservative Billionaire Charles Koch's Donation to FSU Buys Veto Over Economics Faculty Hires
- Published on Wednesday, May 18, 2011
An article by Kris Hundley at the St. Petersburg Times describes how conservative billionaire Charles G. Koch bought himself a veto over the faculty hired to teach at Florida State University's economics department. David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, says it would be "irresponsible" not to accept a large donation. Jennifer Washburn, author of University Inc., a book on industry's ties to academia: "This is an egregious example of a public university being willing to sell itself for next to nothing. In addition to FSU, Koch has made similar arrangements at two other state schools, Clemson University in South Carolina and West Virginia University.
- Published on Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Addressing a popular audience through the New York Times, Harvard's Edward Glaeser wrote that "Perhaps the single most important policy-related insight in economics is that changes in policies lead to behavioral responses" (Glaeser, 2010). It is instructive that Glaeser's first example is UI benefits and that the effects are presented as unconditional: "More generous unemployment insurance leads to longer spells of unemployment." If this is true, and it reflects moral hazard (work avoidance), and it is assumed that longer spells directly translate into higher rates of unemployment, it would be natural to expect that the unprecedented expansion of UI benefits from 26 to as many as 99 weeks has been a leading cause of the extraordinary 2008-9 increases in U.S. long-term unemployment. Among mainstream economists, this story appears to be overwhelmingly accepted.
Focusing on the Great Recession, a new paper by David Howell and Bert M. Azizoglu takes a critical look at this vision of large-scale policy-induced work avoidance and the evidence that has been put forward to confirm it. They find that this evidence, which has relied entirely on the application of past labor market conditions to the Great Recession, is not very compelling and appears largely theory-driven. On the other hand, examination of 2008-10 data, both in several recent studies and by us, offers no support for the work disincentive account. If UI benefit extensions are responsible for increasing unemployment, it appears to have been more by increasing the incentive to remain connected to the labor market in a time of severe job rationing than by increasing the incentive to avoid working.
If more rigorous future empirical work supports this conclusion, it would be consistent with the heterodox vision that most workers value a job apart from the income it provides and abhor unemployment, because it is idleness, shame, inadequate income, and fear of a jobless future that they wake up to every morning, not leisure. In times of deficient aggregate demand, UI spending increases job openings and encourages job search. The policy implications are straightforward. On both equity and efficiency grounds, the correct policy response to large-scale job destruction and job rationing is to dramatically increase the duration of benefits, just as U.S. policymakers did in The Great Recession.